Maasai Mara in Kenya, Africa

Maasai Mara, the very popular national park in Kenya, was the last stop in my African safari adventure. I saw plenty of wild animals especially big cats..  We even managed to catch sight of the elusive leopard!

After landing on the air strip and settling in my room, I went for an evening game drive where we spotted a family of lions!! That made my day.

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Funny and so relatable scene was when the cubs tried playing with the dad, he roared.

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Roar

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Yawn

We started a full day game drive the next day, hoping to spot the famous wildebeest migration. I didn’t get to see it though.. With the rains in Mara, they apparently changed their minds and the crossing was empty by the time we got there. That didn’t bother me much.. I heard so much about how the area starts to look like a crazy parking lot during the migration that I was pretty relieved.

The day was still as adventurous as any :)

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Vultures scavenging dead Zebra

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Wildebeest

Wildebeest

This is one of my favorite pictures.. I can imagine myself standing tall and taking in.

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We spotted the very dangerous hippos near the mara river basin.

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Finally spotted some cheetahs. The very graceful creature has black tear marks around the eyes (and that is how I am going to remember to distinguish between a cheetah and a leopard).
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Cheetahs don’t hunt zebras since they are not as strong as a lion and zebras have really strong legs. I am not sure what this guy was thinking here but he did give a tiny chase and gave up.  I would have loved to see it run..

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Should I dare?

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Cheetahs – mother and her two sons

We spotted a cheetah devouring a gazelle and I managed to catch some good bloody pictures. Cheetahs are known to only eat their own fresh kills unlike hyenas or even lions who don’t mind making a meal out of some other predator’s kills. If you like watching movies with the man-and-animal-friendship theme, I would recommend watching Duma.. heartwarming and simple.

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Hyenas are plenty in Maasai Mara. I could hear them cackling while sleeping in my tent. Apparently, a baby hyena is a rare sight and this seems to be few days old.

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Now that we are talking about babies.. take a look at this baby elephant.

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I never thought how beautiful plains can look. The endless yellow plains of Mara is one of the most visually stunning landscapes I have seen. I still remember the very bumpy drive back to our tent in the stormy rainy weather.. it was the most beautiful, reflective journey and I hope I can relive this again.

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Wildebeests walking in a single file in the storm

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My day was about to end and my guide was taking the route to drop me off. I had given up hope of catching sight of the elusive and shy leopard. A few minutes away from our next stop, we started hearing monkeys shouting. Our knowledgeable guide immediately pointed out there is a leopard around and the shouts are alarm calls given by monkeys alerting each other. The photos are very shaky but here is one. I was told we were very lucky to spot one.

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My last day in Africa started with an early morning game drive. I was really excited to catch the sunrise and it was as beautiful as I thought it would be.

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This post has been few months late in coming but I am surprised how its all fresh in my mind. How I still really want to be back there again. I am sure there are plenty of experiences I haven’t witnessed but being out in the wild is exhilarating and makes you realize how there is so much more in this world than just you and me.

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Amboseli in Kenya, Africa

My African safari adventure started with Amboseli, famous for its elephants sightings and views of Tanzania’s Mt Kilimanjaro. The weather was cloudy when I got here so I missed out on seeing Mt Kili clearly. Despite that, it was still nothing short of amazing. The pictures here are from Amboseli conservancy (land owned by the local community) and the national park.

I saw plenty of wild elephants (woohoo!). They are distinguished from their Asian brothers primarily by the shape of their ears.

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Lone male tusker.

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Elephant herds are matriarchal in nature. Our guides pointed out that the matriarch is the oldest and is usually the one with the biggest tusks amongst the adults. Losing a matriarch is detrimental to elephants in the herd since they are responsible for day to day decision making. But unfortunately their big tusks are sought after :(

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Our guide guessed the elephant to the left is the matriarch

Plenty of Giraffe, Zebras, Wildebeest sightings. This picture shows all of them in one shot.

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Giraffes – They look so calm and at peace all the time. It’s like they know they are in a beautiful place and all they want is to enjoy it.

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Canter!

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Zebras. Unlike most of the other animals that seem to camouflage well, these stand out. But their powerful legs and sticking together mentality also makes it difficult for predators to hunt them.

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Big 5 – a term constantly thrown around during my trip – is a list of 5 animals that are most difficult to hunt on foot. Cape buffalo is one of them. Their horns are made of keratin, just like our hair.

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Male buffalo. Recognized by its elaborate horns

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Female buffalo

Resident wildebeests who are not part of the famous wildebeest migration. Our guide mentioned how they look like they have been assembled from features of different other animals – stripes of zebra, goat’s beard, buffalo horns.

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A herd of Grant Gazelles. The one in the center is the male with its fancy horns and the rest are his wives – “Harem” herd is what my guide said. Females tend to have smaller bodies and horns. Males use these horns to fight and claim territories.

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The giraffe-necked antelope or Gerunuk have long necks that help them pluck on bushes and acacias.

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Ostriches!

Female Ostrich

Female Ostrich

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Males look remarkable with their black feathers and necks that turn pink during mating season.

 

This poor hyena was limping with an injured leg.

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Amboseli is also home to Maasai tribes, one of the very popular semi nomadic tribes in Africa. The warriors were known to hunt for lions as symbol of their courage and strength. Much of their traditional lifestyle has changed with urbanization, ban on hunting/poaching & tourism.

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Our safari ride

Our safari ride

Enjoying sunset from a lookout - Sundowner

Enjoying sunset from a lookout – Sundowner

I am sure the pictures tell how incredible this place is. Every aspect of my experience was unique including the stay in tented camps, transfer using charter flights to/from the park, sundowners, people including staff & guides and the wealth of wild-life.

What better way to get digitally disconnected :)